I made an instagram post yesterday on my photography IG marking 45 days of this madness for me. I started a photo project #findingjoyduringcovid (I love that there are now many people using that hashtag!) on March 18th. I kind of think of St. Patrick’s Day as my first real, “Oh this is how its going to be now” day. But for simplicity sake, we’ll just say I’ve been living this new normal for 45 days.

In the last 45 days, I’ve come to see facemasks as an accessory, much like a piece of jewelry. I find myself trying to match them with my outfit as best I can, and I compliment friends on their masks. This is a new thing. This is a new normal.

In the last 45 days, I felt the miles between me and my family stronger than ever before. My mom had to have surgery, and while I know I couldn’t have done much if I was there (my dad couldn’t even be there with her) I felt that sense of helplessness in a deeper way than I had in the past. It’s like, I can’t be there due to the miles, but I also can’t be there to protect their health even if I lived right there. I really hope this part of the new normal doesn’t stand too much longer.

In the last 45 days, I’ve learned how to use Zoom and I now have a pro-account to host gatherings with friends or organizations. I didn’t even know Zoom was a thing before this. I never had need for it. If I did, I used Google Hangouts. And even then, that was maybe once or twice a year. I’ve already used Zoom more than that. I’m going to say I kind of like this angle of the new normal, simply because I’ve actually been in far better contact with friends these days. In one Zoom chat, we all laughed that even without a stay in place order, we’d all have been at home anyway. But because of it, we were making a more concious effort to be in touch. Because we had to try harder.

Aside from virtual contact, I’ve met more of my neighbors in the last 45 days. Suddenly we aren’t so “Go! Go! Go!” and we’re more worried for those right beside us. Can we help you in any way? Do you need groceries? Call me if you need something. Or just wave over the fence.

I’ve been grateful to still be working these last 45 days. I’ve lost some photo gigs, but my job at the taproom is still happening. My income is down from before, as I do rely on tips to bring a some of my income. But I’m grateful for my job. I’m grateful for the company I am working for and their care for their employees. I know that my still working is a rare thing these days, and my heart aches for all those fighting to get unemployment. My stomach is in knots knowing there are people out there who don’t know where their next meal will come from, because they’re told they CAN’T go to work.

We’ve seen a lot of things get broken in the last 45 days. Or maybe we just learned of how many things were already broken, held together with tape at best. And as a result the anxiety and stress of the current situation is getting to us all.

I’m tired. The new normal has made me very tired emotionally. I’m tired of the bickering and the fighting. I’m tired of conspiracy theories, and “you can’t tell me what to dos.” I’m tired from so much negativity and the divide in our country just keeps getting deeper. I’m tired for our medical personnel and their families. I’m tired for the people who have had to say goodbye to loved ones from this virus. I’m tired of stressing over trying to budget the finances harder than ever. I’m tired of the idea that this is all a big hoax and it not being taken seriously. I’m tired from grieving the loss of the old normal.

But every day I get up with hope deep down. I start every day with the hope that we’re one day closer to a treatment and/or a vaccine. We’re one more day closer to the light at the end of the tunnel. And I feel hope that we’ll have learned from this experience, and that we’re going to carry a lot of the good stuff with us into our new normal. We’ve adapted as well as we can, and we continue to adapt every day. And it is my prayer that as we adapt, we start to heal as a people. Because it is in the healing that we will finally be able to truly settle into this new normal. Whatver it may ultimately look like.

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